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Sarah Painter – In the Light of What We See

Posted in Book reviews, and Fiction

Who would have said that a novel, set in the Brighton hospital, could be such enjoyable read? Not me, dear friends, not me. But let me tell you – try this book even if it sounds like nothing you are used to read. It’s not just beautifully written novel about two women in different times, but also a psychological thriller. I must congratulate to Sarah Painter who managed to connect so interesting stories in one building, which is moreover hospital.

In the Light of What We See consists of two story lines – the first one is current, the second one set in 1938. Main characters Mina and Grace are both working in the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton. No matter how different they may seem, they are actually more alike than expected. There is an unhappy love, manipulation, regrets, unexpected friendships and touch of supernatural.

As it sometimes happens to me while reading, I felt weirdly close to one heroine, Mina. Her character reflects in many aspects mine, although I’m not very proud of it. It could have been author’s intention to show relationships of modern times in such open, criticizing way. Sure, we feel closer with our friends who are often inseparable parts of our lives. There is a wider understanding for extramarital relationships and sex. But do we really have such strong bounds and deep trust in each other? It made me think whether things have actually changed with time and if so, whether it was for better or worse.

Painter definitely succeeded with description of 1930’s, and while reading Grace’s story I felt like travelling back in time. Life in the Brighton hospital back then was much harder and raw in comparison to the current possibilities of privileged. Not only it made a nice contrast in the story itself, but it also drew attention to omitted fact how many people in the world still cannot afford necessary medical treatment.

What I enjoyed the most was the unexpected twist in the story line. Last 50 pages were nerv-wracking for me, and although the ending was somehow left open, I appreciated it. That being said, I must acknowledge that In the Light of What We See would be exciting also as two completely separated books. Nevertheless, I’m happy I discovered this novel and can’t wait to read more by Sarah Painter.
PS: No matter how funny it may sound, when I was reading, sparrows on our rooftop were louder than usual. Oh, birds..

Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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